Application Process

What is a Federal Student Aid Identification (FSA ID)?

The Federal Student Aid Identification (FSA ID) serves as a secure, electronic signature that provides access to the FREE Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as well as other systems accessible in, such as a student’s borrowing history. Each contributor of information to the FAFSA will need an FSA ID, which can be created by selecting Create Account at

My parents do not have a Social Security number. How do they get an FSA ID?

Starting in December 2023, parents will be able to get an FSA ID (account username and password) without having an Social Security number to access and complete their section of the 2024–25 FAFSA form. This feature is scheduled to be released during the 2024-2025 FAFSA launch at

Who is eligible to apply for financial aid?

Degree-seeking students are eligible to apply for financial aid. U.S. citizens, permanent residents and eligible non-citizens can use the FREE Application for Federal Student Aid. Undocumented undergraduate students can use the Illinois Alternative Application (or RISE Act).

What is a contributor and are they obligated to pay?

A contributor is anyone who provides information to the FAFSA. This includes the student, parent and spouse. Each contributor needs an FSA ID or FAFSA account. Each contributor providing income information needs to provide consent for the IRS to perform a direct data exchange to the FAFSA. Without consent to exchange federal tax income, there is no eligibility for federal student aid. When a contributor accepts an invitation to be a contributor and provides consent for federal tax income, it does not obligate them to pay.

What if my parent declines my invitation to be a contributor?

A dependent undergraduate student can still submit a FAFSA without parent information when there are unusual circumstances such as the student having no contact with the parent. In the instance the student has contact with the parent and the parent declines the invitation, the dependent student can submit the FAFSA and eligibility is limited to unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans.

Neither of my parents have ever filed taxes and neither have I. Can I receive any financial aid? 

Yes. Non-tax filers can complete the FAFSA or Alternative Application. Remember that all contributors need an FSA ID as well as a consent for IRS direct data exchange. The IRS will confirm the non-tax filing status so that the application can be processed. Any wages earned – but not filed with IRS – will need to be entered manually into the application.

Student Aid Index

What is the Student Aid Index?

The Student Aid Index (SAI) is an output calculation from FAFSA data and provides the University with eligibility for federal and state assistance such as Federal Pell and the Illinois Monetary Award Program. FAFSA data comes from contributors and the IRS direct data exchange. The lowest the SAI can be is -1500.

Can an institution adjust the SAI of an applicant to below -1500 using professional judgment?

No. An institution may use professional judgment to adjust FAFSA data elements, but the Department’s Federal Processing System (FPS) will never assign an SAI of less than -1500. 

Are there changes to how foreign income is treated on the FAFSA?

Starting with the 2024-25 FAFSA, U.S. citizens and permanent residents who had foreign income exempt from taxation (i.e., a foreign earned income exclusion) will be required to manually report the untaxed exclusion amount on their FAFSA form. [See SAI-Q6 for additional instructions] For any person who filed a foreign tax return, there is no change to how to treat and convert amounts to U.S. dollars on the FAFSA. 

There are situations where the FTI does not accurately reflect an individual’s situation, such as when an applicant was married and filed jointly two years ago but has since divorced and no longer has a spouse. Are such applicants required to manually provide income and tax information on the FAFSA form?

Yes. There are circumstances when an applicant’s FTI does not accurately represent the applicant’s financial situation, including cases where an individual’s marital status has changed since filing taxes two years prior. In these circumstances, the applicant and/or one of their FAFSA contributors may need to enter data on the FAFSA manually. 

Will the untaxed IRA and/or pension distribution amounts received as FTI directly from the IRS distinguish between reportable untaxed amounts and rollover amounts?

No. Contributors with untaxed IRA and/or pension distribution amounts reported on their federal tax return will still need to provide the amount of any rollovers included in that untaxed amount on the FAFSA form.

Awarding Other Financial Aid

Do I need to complete a FAFSA or Alternative Application to receive financial aid?

Yes. The University recommends all degree-seeking students who wish to receive financial aid apply with the FAFSA or Alternative Application. Next, we recommend you apply for institutional and private scholarships to keep loan indebtedness to a minimum.

I submitted my FAFSA early January. It's almost February; how much aid I am getting?

Thanks for submitting your FAFSA in January! Unfortunately, with many of the changes to the FAFSA and the data matches required from multiple government agencies, the University is scheduled to receive FAFSA data at end of January 2024. This means financial aid requirements and financial aid awards in NEIUport, My Financial Aid tab will be delayed until the first two weeks of February, hopefully not longer.

What impact will outside scholarships have on Pell awards for the 2024-25 award year? Is it still okay for a student to have aid above their COA if their only Title IV aid is the Pell Grant?

Pell Grant awards in 2024-25 will be determined by using the appropriate Pell Grant formula, enrollment intensity, cost of attendance and student aid index. The Federal Pell Grant is never adjusted to account for other forms of aid. When awarding aid from the other Title IV programs, cost of attendance cannot be exceeded.

What is cost of attendance?

Financial aid programs are intended to assist students with costs associated with degree seeking enrollment. Cost of attendance consists of direct and indirect costs. Direct costs are expenses students will incur to be successful in the classroom including tuition, fees, books and supplies. Indirect costs are expenses students may or may not incur and are not billable, such as transportation and living expenses. Note: For NEIU students planning to reside in The Nest, living expenses is a direct, billable cost.

Pell Grant Calculation

Is it possible to get an estimate of what my Pell Grant will be with the new FAFSA?

Yes. There is a tool to see how much federal student aid you may be eligible for in the 2024–25 award year. Note: The Federal Student Aid estimator estimates the Student Aid Index (SAI) for the 2024–25 award year. 

What year’s income should be used in the Early Aid Estimator?

For the 2024-2025 FAFSA you will use 2022 income.